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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Monday, December 12, 2022 21:54:42

Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali 2022: 4 - Getting home

Monday, December 5, 2022

A wheel chair was waiting for me in the passenger drop off zone, where we said goodbye to Dewa. We were taken to the Philippines Airlines lounge after going through the procedures to leave the country. I had checked in on line the day before but the boarding passes were not accepted, so we had to check in again.

The plane for Manila was a quite new Airbus 321 The seats recline to almost flat and were very comfortable, so we both got some sleep on the 4 hour flight. We arrive at Manila at 5 AM their time, and I was wheeled to a lounge with Marilynn, however the Philippines Airlines lounge did not open until 6:30. There was a lounge for other airlines nearby, but they charged $25 each for admission. We explained the problem to the reception lady but when we started to leave she called us back to offer us comfortable seats to wait. The Philippines lounge wasn't much. We ate some snacks and I watched part of the France - Poland football game on TV.

Security was intense, scanners everywhere. To get to the lounge we had to go through a complete security check. On the way back we went through another one, and before the boarding gates a third one where two employees made one hell of a mess of my suitcase - they said the scanner showed a Swiss Army knife but I've never owned one. After scrambling the contents of my suitcase and finding nothing they gave me back my open suitcase with a mound of no longer folded clothes. Manila is off the list as a place to change planes.

We eventually boarded an old Boeing 777-300. The business class seats were space far apart, and they recline flat, however they were side by side with no cubicles. The seats were uncomfortable and when flat raised ridges at the folds made sleep impossible. Marilynn slept a little, but it was a long 13 hours.

Due to the international date line we are in December 5 again. A wheel chair lady took us to an electric cart in LAX. Marilynn was not allowed on it so had to jog behind, dragging her suitcase. We were arrived at a sorting area where boarding passes were examined and people processed in the order of departure time. There was some drama, as we did not have boarding passes to San Jose, we'd had no way to check in. I was given a seat in the waiting area and Marilynn was told bluntly only wheel chair people could sit. We eventually made a lot of noise and I was wheeled through the border patrol check point with Marilynn, then customs and immigration.

LAX lived up to its reputation as one of the world's worst major airports, however a kind wheel chair lady managed to get us to the check in area of Delta. It was Delta's opportunity to confirm my belief that they are the worst major airline still flying - their system did not have our reservation. It was the only flight to Costa Rica that afternoon, listed with a booking agency called Cheap O flights. They proved very efficient in updates of flight status, but the problem was not their fault. After a very long time of waiting with our wheel chair lady going from one agent to another they finally found our flight and boarding passes were issued.

I had booked a room at the "Inn at Playa del Rey", so we asked the wheel chair lady to drop us at a taxi stand. She explained the at LAX taxis are no longer allowed in the arrivals area, so took us to a bus stop, explaining we would have to take a bus to the taxi area. After thanking her profusely, we were delivered to a lady bus driver who took our carry on bags and put them on a luggage rack and said she'd let us know when we got to a taxi. It turned out to be a long way, and the bus gradually filled at numerous stops.

At the taxi area the driver carried our bags off the bus and called over the fellow in charge of taxis. We were soon heading off with a delightful young driver for the relatively short trip to our hotel. We had let the hotel know we would arrive at about 10 AM as we arrived in LAX on time at a bit after 8 AM, but it was about noon when the LAX nightmare ended.

The Inn at Playa del Rey is a beautifully done B & B with about 8 comfortable rooms and some well done common rooms. Our room was ready for us, and we were given delicious muffins with coffee or tea . There is no restaurant but breakfast is included and they have a list of nearby restaurants for other meals. This is an oasis of peace and calm in contrast with the chaos of the airport. Our room was beautifully furnished with a view across a large area of grass marshland.

We slept soundly in the super comfortable bed until Marilynn woke me at 6 PM to head back to the airport, even though our flight didn't go until 11:50 PM. The hotel receptionist called Union Taxi who promised to be there in half an hour. When the receptionist called after half an hour the taxi people said they were having trouble finding a driver. After another wait they phoned to say they could not come. This concerned us, as this is not a traffic area to hail a cab. Yellow Cabs, when called, came right away.

Back at the airport things started to unravel again. A wheel chair lady took us to the Delta business class lounge, where we were informed that business class was not sufficient to enter, we would need a high level American Express card or gold elite status with the airline. Only with Delta!!

We were taken to a restaurant close to the gate where the food and drink were excellent. The restaurant closed at boarding time so we joined priority boarding for those needing assistance. At the door to the plane entry was not permitted as they had a problem. This left all those needing assistance in the boarding tunnel with no place to sit for about 20 minutes before being allowed to board.

Business class looked very much like economy - economy seats were directly behind business, but three across instead of two. There seemed to be no other difference. When I sat down my knees touched the back of the seat in front of me. When the fellow in the row ahead went to recline his seat it crushed my knees. Sensing an obstruction he moved his seat forward and then back very forcefully to try to get it to reclined, which caused a yelp from me. Informing him he was crushing my knees had no effect, but when the stewardess and Marilynn got into the act he agreed to not recline his seat, which left him in a business class seat he couldn't recline and me one I didn't fit in for a 5 hour flight!! I declined the meal as there was not space to get my tray down.

I managed to fit my laptop on my leg, and there were power plugs. My computer was getting low on battery so I plugged in. Shortly after my battery died. The stewardess checked the plugs - they didn't work. Delta strikes again!!

As always, Costa Rican customs and immigration were quick and easy and an airport taxi took us on the 10 minute journey home. After this flight is was a great relief.

To all our friends around the world, have a super happy holiday season and may 2023 exceed all others in good things coming your way. We hope we will see you this coming year.